Record editorial: Elected officials owe Parkites transparency about City Hall shakeup
Park City’s elected officials surprised nearly everyone last week when they announced the departure of City Manager Diane Foster, who had been the top staffer at the Marsac Building since 2012.
The officials characterized the move as an amicable separation, but it was, for all intents and purposes, a firing. It was essentially finalized Friday when the Park City Council voted to authorize the mayor to terminate Foster’s employment agreement.
Given that the city manager oversees nearly the entire municipal government, the shakeup will reverberate through the Marsac Building and through the other city facilities like the PC MARC and public works building. Parkites, then, deserve to know the reasoning behind the sudden change.
Unfortunately, Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council have offered no explanation.
In a press release announcing the move, the elected officials rightfully praised Foster for her service to the community over the years and highlighted some of her key contributions. They did not, however, divulge any information about why it’s time to move in a new direction.
The release concluded with this: “Foster and Park City’s elected officials will not be making any other verbal or written statements about Foster’s departure.”
More transparency than that is needed, especially since Foster is due to receive a payout stretching into the six figures as a result of the separation. Her 2013 employment agreement states she is due a year’s worth of salary.
Such payouts are common when high-ranking public employees like city managers are removed from their posts, but taxpayers ought to know why they are, essentially, paying Foster not to work on their behalf.
The mayor and City Council should also clarify why they view Foster’s second-in-command, Matt Dias, as clearly the best person to succeed her. Dias, the former assistant city manager, stepped into the top job on an interim basis, but the press release states the elected officials intend to “discuss with Dias the opportunity to take on the permanent role.” Meanwhile, in a departure from precedent, a nationwide search for candidates is not planned.
It is, of course, the right of the mayor and City Council to make leadership changes as they see fit. Foster is respected in the community and leaves City Hall with an accomplished track record, but a new face at the helm may very well provide a boost at the Marsac Building. Likewise, Dias may, in fact, be the right person for the job.
But given the significance of each move, Park City’s elected officials must do more than simply ask their constituents to take their word for it.
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